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‘American Idol’ star Clay Aiken will run for an NC seat in Congress

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‘American Idol’ star Clay Aiken will run for an NC seat in Congress

BY DANIELLE BATTAGLIA AND WILL DORAN

UPDATED JANUARY 10, 2022 9:48 AM

Clay Aiken, the “American Idol” star and a Raleigh native, wants to represent North Carolina in Congress.

Aiken, a Democrat who previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, announced Monday that he’s planning to run this year in the Durham-centric House district that’s now open.

The 6th Congressional District also includes Chapel Hill and other Orange County communities, plus Apex, Morrisville, most of Cary and a sliver of Raleigh. But its shape is subject to change in ongoing court challenges to the maps.

“The people in the Triangle gave me the platform that I have, and I wanna use it to give back to them,” Aiken told The News & Observer in a written statement. “I want to be a loud voice for the Triangle when I get to Congress, I will tell you that. And we need a big voice.”

Whoever wins the Democratic primary this May is almost guaranteed to win the general election. 

Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, currently represents Orange, Durham and parts of Wake counties. He announced his retirement in October after serving in his position since 1997, with an additional four terms between 1987 and 1995.

Aiken said it was actually Price who helped him, in 8th grade, become interested in politics. Aiken said when his class at Leesville Road Middle School studied the 1992 election, he asked his teacher if he could invite a politician to speak to their class, and contacted Price, who agreed.

For those who only know Aiken as a musician from his stint on “American Idol,” they may be surprised to learn that he closely follows North Carolina politics. Aiken listed a series of Price’s accomplishments, from bringing the Environmental Protection Agency onto one campus in the Triangle to fighting for federal dollars to expand U.S. 64 from two to four lanes.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around what we’re losing with Congressman Price’s retirement,” Aiken said. “He’s delivered so much for the Triangle.”

Price’s retirement cleared the way for many candidates looking to seek higher office, and Aiken’s entry into the race further complicates an already crowded Democratic primary. Other Democrats planning to run include state Sens. Valerie Foushee and Wiley Nickel and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam.

Joining the field of candidates, Aiken instantly becomes the most well-known person running.

The “Measure of a Man” singer debuted on “American Idol” in 2003 and came in second place against Ruben Studdard. That didn’t stop his second album from going multi-platinum. He has released six albums since.

Aiken said he has, blown up and framed in his house, a blurry photo of him singing before 20,000 people at PNC Arena. It brings him chills every time he sees his small frame on the giant stage surrounded by so many people.

“It’s not very often that a freshman can join Congress and have a strong voice on day one,” Aiken said. “The folks here in the Triangle let me represent them nearly 20 years ago when I was just a kid on a singing competition. I owe my friends and neighbors here everything.”

Aiken has gone on to be a best-selling author, appeared in “Spamalot” on Broadway and has competed on, acted in and hosted many television shows.

2014 RUN FOR CONGRESS

Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic political consultant and aide to former Gov. Jim Hunt, said Aiken has the same “happy warrior” persona that Hunt did. That could go a long way in a crowded Democratic primary, Pearce said, since it can be tough for candidates to differentiate themselves — especially in a highly progressive district like the 6th.

“You’re not going to find a lot of policy differences,” he said. “It’s more about the person and their character.”

In 2014, Aiken ran a long-shot campaign in a heavily conservative district that covered several mostly rural counties south and west of the Triangle.

Pearce said nobody really thought Aiken would win the Democratic primary that year. His opponent was Keith Crisco, a wealthy and well-known businessman who had been in Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s cabinet, as N.C. commerce secretary. But Aiken squeaked out the win by a few hundred votes, going on to face incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers.

Many in that conservative district were probably suspicious of Aiken for being known as a singer, Pearce said. And the Ellmers campaign was criticized as engaging in thinly veiled homophobia in accusing Aiken, who is gay, of having “San Francisco” values. But Aiken hit the pavement and walked around the small towns of the district to meet people in person.

He still lost, but limited Ellmers to less than 60% of the vote. Many of the counties in the district had voted by much higher margins, just two years earlier, in favor of a constitutional amendment to keep same-sex marriage illegal. In Ellmers’ home of Harnett County, for example, just 25% of voters supported gay marriage in 2012 — but 36% voted for Aiken in 2014.

“He was smart, tougher than you might think, had really good political instincts,” Pearce said.

Aiken said he wants to go to Washington to address climate change, systemic racism, income inequality and gun violence, and work for voting rights, abortion rights and universal health care access.

“This is some basic stuff I’m talking about here,” Aiken said. “Basic things that should be done — stuff that must be done — a lot of stuff that could have been done already if politicians would get off of Twitter and get off their asses and actually do what we sent them there to do.”

Aiken said he also wants people, when they hear North Carolina, to think of another politician in North Carolina besides U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who Aiken called “a bozo.”

THE SOUTH’S FIRST OPENLY GAY CONGRESSMAN?

Race could be a large emphasis in the primary, which may not favor a white man like Aiken. In a state that’s nearly 25% Black, North Carolina only has two Black members of Congress. And only one, Charlotte Democrat Alma Adams, is running for reelection in 2022. Black candidates in the 6th include Foushee; Richard Watkins, a virologist; and Nathan Click, a U.S. Air Force veteran and founder of a commercial financing company . Allam is Asian-American.

But Aiken is from another politically under-represented community, said Andrew Reynolds, a longtime UNC political scientist who now teaches as Princeton University and focuses on LGBT representation in politics. He’s been informally advising Aiken and encouraging him to run, eyeing the barriers he could break for the gay community.

“There has never been an out lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans congressperson elected, from the South, in U.S. history,” Reynolds said.

What’s more, Reynolds said, his research shows the congressional district in the South that’s most likely to break that barrier and elect an LGBT representative is North Carolina’s 6th.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham had numerous firsts in the gay rights movement, he said, including some of the first gay mayors. And the area is currently home to a large percentage of the N.C. General Assembly’s LGBT members. So while Aiken isn’t a shoo-in, Reynolds said, he has a real shot.

“I think he’s not the frontrunner,” he said. “But he’s in the top three. And if he gets into the top two, then who knows what happens.”

UNCERTAIN MAPS

It’s possible the district will change shape between now and November — due to a lawsuit accusing Republicans of drawing unconstitutional gerrymanders to unfairly favor their party.

State judges plan to release a ruling on whether the maps were gerrymandered no later than Tuesday. Regardless of their decision, the case is expected to continue on appeal.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina State Board of Elections asked the state Supreme Court to set the filing period for candidates between Feb. 24 and March 4.

Filing was already underway in December for a March primary when the Supreme Court ordered the elections board to stop and allow time for the courts decide the legality of the new maps. In its ruling, the court ordered the primary to be moved to May.

 

 

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nbcnews.com

Former 'American Idol' Clay Aiken makes second bid for Congress

 

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Former 'American Idol' Clay Aiken makes second bid for Congress

Kelly O'Donnell

1d ago / 7:44 AM CST

Clay Aiken's singing voice made him famous in 2003 when America's votes carried him to the finals of the popular TV show "American Idol." Nearly 20 years later, Aiken says his voice has another purpose, and Monday the North Carolina native is launching a second bid to represent his home state in Congress. "North Carolina is the place where I first discovered that I had a voice and that it was a voice that could be used for more than singing," Aiken says in a video announcing his candidacy.

Unlike in his first political campaign, Aiken, 43, a Democrat, is emphasizing his bid to become the first openly gay member of Congress from the South. In his announcement, he argues that the "loudest voices" in his home state's politics have become "white nationalists" and "homophobes," adding: "It's not just North Carolina. There's a Marjorie [Taylor Greene] in Georgia and a Lauren [Boebert] in Colorado, and these folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room, and I'm going to tell you I am sick of it." Aiken says that has motivated him to step forward again: "As Democrats, we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices, because those folks ain't quieting down any time soon."

Aiken says his candidacy will be a call for greater civility. "North Carolina deserves representatives in Washington who use their positions to make people's lives better, not to advance polarizing positions that embarrass our state and stand in the way of real progress," he says.

Aiken is competing in the newly created 6th District race to succeed the veteran Democrat David Price, who for more than 30 years has represented the Triangle region, which is home to the area's major universities, Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aiken made a point to honor Price's long public service, saying: "He leaves big shoes to fill. I'd be honored to take his place representing the Triangle."

In 2014, Aiken won the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, but incumbent Republican Renee Elmers easily won re-election in November, with 59 percent of the vote to Aiken's 41 percent.

Aiken is expected to face a wide field of Democratic contenders this year in the newly drawn district, which is considered solidly Democratic. Aiken, a resident of Wake County, is a 10th-generation North Carolinian.  

Before "American Idol" opened doors to a multiplatinum-selling music career, television and Broadway, Aiken taught special education and founded the National Inclusion Project. He has served as a national goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

Aiken also competed on the fifth season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," hosted by Donald Trump. Aiken was the runner-up to Arsenio Hall.

 

 

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washingtonpost.com

‘American Idol’ star Clay Aiken making a second bid for Congress in North Carolina

 

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‘American Idol’ star Clay Aiken making a second bid for Congress in North Carolina

Yesterday at 9:51 a.m. EST
Former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken announced Monday that he is making a second bid for a congressional seat in North Carolina, this time seeking the Democratic nod in a more liberal district than eight years ago.
 

“As a loud and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families,” Aiken, a native of Raleigh, N.C., said on his new website.

In 2014, Aiken prevailed in the Democratic primary in the state’s 2nd District but was soundly defeated in the general election by Republican incumbent Renee L. Ellmers.

This time, Aiken, 43, is running in the redrawn 6th District that includes much of the territory currently represented by long-serving Rep. David E. Price (D), 81, who announced in October that he would not seek reelection this year.

“One of my first experiences in politics and government was asking Congressman Price to speak to my eighth grade class — an invitation he graciously accepted,” Aiken shared on his website. “He is a legendary legislator who has delivered for the Triangle for over 30 years, and he leaves big shoes to fill. I’d be honored to take his place.”

The 6th District includes Durham and other parts of the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Aiken faces what is expected to a competitive primary. The Democrat who wins will be heavily favored in the general election.

Before his second-place finish on “American Idol” in 2003, Aiken was a special-education teacher. Since his participation in the singing competition, he has released several albums, appeared on Broadway, hosted a Christmas special on television and served as a UNICEF ambassador.

In 2012, Aiken was the runner-up on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the reality show hosted by Donald Trump.

During the 2016 presidential race, Aiken defended Trump against accusations of racism, citing his time on the show with him. After the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville the following year, Aiken apologized for having defended Trump.

Aiken said that, as a member of Congress, he would advocate “inclusion, income equality, free access to quality health care and combating climate change.”

“I also believe we need more civility in our politics, and North Carolina deserves representatives in Washington who use their positions to make people’s lives better, not to advance polarizing positions that embarrass our state and stand in the way of real progress,” he said.

 

 

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thehill.com

Clay Aiken launches second bid for Congress

 

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Clay Aiken launches second bid for Congress

BY JUDY KURTZ - 01/10/22 11:22 AM EST 133

Clay Aiken says he wants to change North Carolina’s “backwards ass policies” as the former “American Idol” star launches a second bid for Congress.

The performer — who was the runner-up on the second season of the reality TV singing competition in 2003 — announced Monday that he’s entering the race as a Democrat for the open seat in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) announced his retirement last year from representing much of the area that’s part of the newly redrawn 6th District.

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“For decades, North Carolina was actually the progressive beacon in the South,” Aiken said in a video kicking off his campaign. “But then things changed, and the progressives lost power, and we started getting backwards ass policies, like the voter suppression bills and the bigoted bathroom bill.” 

“Because today, it seems like the loudest voices in North Carolina politics are white nationalists like this guy,” Aiken, 43, said, before playing a clip of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).

Showing images of GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Aiken told viewers, “These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I’ve got to tell you, I am sick of it.”

“As Democrats we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices, because those folks ain’t quieting down anytime soon. That's why I'm running for Congress here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice.”

Aiken’s congressional bid comes almost eight years after he launched his first run for Congress in 2014 against then-Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). He lost the race in the Tar Heel State’s then-Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District.

If elected, Aiken said he would be the South’s first gay congressman. “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us,” Aiken said in his campaign launch ad, “just tell them I’m warming up the 'ole vocal cords.”

 

 

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wral.com

Clay Aiken says anti-LGBTQ comments fueled congressional entry

 

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Clay Aiken says anti-LGBTQ comments fueled congressional entry

Posted January 10, 2022 11:28 a.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2022 12:05 p.m. EST

 
By Bryan Anderson, WRAL statehouse reporter

Former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken on Monday announced a congressional bid for a seat in the Triangle, citing increased homophobia and racism from top North Carolina Republican lawmakers as a primary driver behind his decision to enter the race.

Aiken, a 43-year-old Democrat looking to become the first openly gay congressional member to represent either of the Carolinas, is running in one of three safe Democratic seats, though the boundaries may shift if a court orders a redrawn U.S. House map ahead of the May primary.

It’s his second attempt at a congressional seat after a failed 2014 run. He joins a field that includes at least six primary opponents looking to fill the seat of retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. David Price in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District, which includes Orange and Durham counties and a portion of Wake County.

Aiken singled out two GOP leaders in his campaign announcement video, calling Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn a “white nationalist” and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson a “hateful homophobe.”

With a rainbow flag draped behind projected images of Cawthorn and Robinson, Aiken said, “Just think how excited these guys are going to be when we elect the South’s first gay congressman. … If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal chords.”

Cawthorn’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The western North Carolina congressman last year told his supporters to be prepared for “bloodshed” if “our election systems continue to be rigged,” repeating a false assertion that President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election unfairly.

Robinson has on numerous occasions made homophobic comments. He wrote on Facebook after the 2016 shooting at a gay Orlando, Florida, nightclub, “Homosexuality is STILL an abominable sin and I WILL NOT join in ‘celebrating gay pride’ nor will I fly their sacrilegious flag on my page.” He wrote in 2017 that “you CAN NOT love God and support the homosexual agenda.”

After more recent anti-LGBTQ comments surfaced and high-ranking Democrats called on him to resign last year, Robinson noted he could separate his personal beliefs from his job. Asked at an October news conference if he has any personal beef with the LGBTQ community, he replied, “Absolutely not.”

“As the Lt. Governor has said many times, we do not live in a theocracy,” John Waugh, a spokesman for Robinson, said in a statement Monday. “We live in a constitutional republic where everyone has the right to express themselves however they want. This includes the LGBTQ+ community, and the Lt. Governor will always fight to protect the rights of all people.”

Aiken, a Raleigh native, said in his video that Democrats need to more effectively speak out on issues of equality.

“As Democrats, we have got to get better at speaking up and using our voices,” he said, citing climate change, racial and economic inequality, gun violence, voting rights, abortion access and access to free health care as his top policy priorities.

Before appearing on “American Idol” in 2003, Aiken taught special education. Despite his loss to Ruben Studdard, he became a household name, releasing multiple albums and using his increased recognition to raise awareness to multiple social and political issues.

He also has experience running a successful congressional primary race, where he secured the Democratic nomination for a 2014 U.S. House seat by one1 percentage point. He then lost the general election to former Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers by nearly 18 points.

David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College, said Aiken ran a “credible campaign” and beat expectations in 2014. But he believes the candidate is not in as strong of a position now because of the crowded field, lack of political experience and dissipating name recognition.

“He’s gonna know fairly quickly how much support he’s got,” McLennan said.

Aiken faces a crowded field, including several elected officials. His opponents include state Sen. Wiley Nickel, D-Wake, state Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, Durham virologist Richard Watkins, Duke University senior policy associate Ashley Ward and North Carolina Central University professor Stephen Valentine. Nathan Click, a former U.S. Air Force officer from Morrisville, is also running on the Democratic side.

Republican candidates include U.S. Army veteran Gerry Austin, health care worker Courtney Geels and Mahesh Ganorkar, a North Carolina resident who doesn't live in the district he's seeking to represent and is making immigration central to his campaign.

Nickel welcomed Aiken’s entry into the race, noting it will give voters “a meaningful choice at the ballot box.”

The candidate who wins the Democratic primary is all but assured to defeat whichever Republican wins their race under the current map.

“The voters want candidates with real experience crafting legislation and solving problems,” Nickel said in a statement. “We’re going to continue talking about my record of service in the North Carolina Senate and the serious policy issues that matter to the voters.”

Allam’s campaign said that the county commissioner will continue talking with voters and “making the case for a progressive with a track record.”

Ward said in a statement that voters should elect someone with more public policy and environmental experience. “I am the only announced candidate with federal policy experience, and I believe I can and will bring positive change to North Carolina and the nation if elected.”

Foushee said she believes Aiken is a person "of good faith and character" and said she'll focus on reaching out to voters to discuss issues they most care about.

No other Democratic primary opponent immediately responded when reached for comment. Of the seven candidates, Aiken has the widest social media following.

 

 

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nytimes.com

Clay Aiken, Former ‘American Idol’ Star, Announces Run for Congress

 

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Clay Aiken, Former ‘American Idol’ Star, Announces Run for Congress

Mr. Aiken said he was running as a “loud and proud Democrat” for an open House seat in his native North Carolina this year.

  •  

Clay Aiken at the Metropolitan Opera New Year's Eve annual gala in 2018.Credit...Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

Clay Aiken, the former “American Idol” contestant, said on Monday that he was running for Congress in North Carolina, in his second attempt to represent the state where he grew up.

On his new website, Mr. Aiken, 43, referred to himself as a “loud and proud Democrat” and said he would be running in a newly drawn district that includes Durham and Chapel Hill. Representative David E. Price, a Democrat who currently represents much of that area, announced his retirement in October.

“I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades,” Mr. Aiken, a native of Raleigh, wrote. “I’ll always stand up for my principles and fight for inclusion, income equality, free access to quality health care, and combating climate change.”

Mr. Aiken, who placed second behind Ruben Studdard in the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, previously ran for Congress in a Republican-leaning part of the state in 2014. He won the Democratic primary but was defeated in the general election by the Republican incumbent.

Last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered that the state’s 2022 primary election, originally scheduled for March 8, be postponed until May 17, citing a “need for urgency” in giving critics of the state legislature’s gerrymandered political maps additional time to pursue a legal battle to redraw them. New boundaries for state legislative districts and North Carolina’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives face three lawsuits filed by Democrats and voting-rights advocates in state court in Raleigh.

 

Mr. Aiken is joining a crowded Democratic primary field that includes two state senators and a Durham County commissioner, The News & Observer reported.

Mr. Aiken said his first experience with politics came when he was in the eighth grade and asked Mr. Price to speak to his class. Mr. Price agreed.

“In Congress, I’ll use my voice to advocate for common-sense policies that encourage continued job growth and healthy communities,” Mr. Aiken wrote. “Many of these political battles divide us as people, threaten our democracy, and weaken America. North Carolinians are worried about affordable health care and rapid inflation.”

Mr. Aiken studied at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and taught special education in Wake County. He is a co-founder of the National Inclusion Project, which advocates for disabled children, and he worked with UNICEF as a national goodwill ambassador, according to his website.

 

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people.com

Clay Aiken Is Running for Congress in North Carolina: 'I Love My Home State'

 

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Clay Aiken Is Running for Congress in North Carolina: 'I Love My Home State'

"These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber's, that I can promise you," Aiken, who is running as a Democrat, said in a kickoff video
By Adam CarlsonJanuary 10, 2022 12:53 PM
 
Clay Aiken is warming up for another run for office.

The American Idol alum on Monday announced his campaign for North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. The singer, 43, is running as a Democrat for the seat currently held by Rep. Kathy Manning, an attorney who was elected in 2020.

The ultimate fate of that district, however, is pending the outcome of a lawsuit about how the map was redrawn by state Republicans.

In a campaign kickoff video, Aiken playfully riffed on his public image as "a bright-eyed kid from North Carolina" who made his debut on Idol nearly two decades ago.

"These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber's, that I can promise you," he said. "But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state."

Aiken, a Raleigh native, went on to tout North Carolina's history of progressivism and took aim at what he said were divisive politicians — like Republican Madison Cawthorn — who don't represent the state.

Clay Aiken attneds "Once On This Island" Broadway opening night at Circle in the Square Theatre on December 3, 2017 in New York City.

Clay Aiken
 
| CREDIT: JOHN LAMPARSKI/WIREIMAGE

"These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I gotta tell you, I am sick of it," he said.

"We have gotta get better at speaking up and using our voices 'cause those folks ain't quieting down anytime soon," he continued. "That's why I'm running for Congress, here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice."

Aiken unsuccessfully ran for Congress once before, in 2014, in a much more Republican-leaning district. The district he is seeking now remains in limbo after advocates sued, saying the state's conservatives used the redistricting process to disenfranchise other voters and give unfair advantage to Republicans.

 
Clay Aiken
Clay Aiken
 
| CREDIT: HEIDI GUTMAN/ABC VIA GETTY

In his campaign video on Monday, Aiken touted his "level-headed" and "open-minded" bona fides and said he would be focused on issues ranging "from stopping climate change, systemic racism, income inequality and gun violence to securing voting rights, free health care and a woman's right to choose."

He also noted that, if elected, he would be the first openly gay congressperson from the South.

During his previous campaign, Aiken highlighted his time away from show business, including his background in special education and working with UNICEF.

"If I had not been on Idol, chances are I wouldn't be able to run in this race, and I understand that. But I got probably 70 percent of my votes on the show from North Carolina," Aiken told The New York Times in 2014. "So these folks who I'm trying to represent put me here."

"This is not a whim for me," he told the paper then. "I've been thinking of this for over a year."

Aiken's latest bid was welcomed online by close friend Meghan McCain.

"I'm so proud of my dear friend Clay on his announcement to run for Congress," she tells PEOPLE. "For as long as I've known him he's been deeply caring and passionate. Although we may be politically polar opposites, I'll be rooting for him every step of the way."

 

 

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deadline.com

Clay Aiken Announces Another Bid For Congress

 

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Clay Aiken Announces Another Bid For Congress

Clay Aiken
Clay AikenAndy Kropa/Invision/AP

Clay Aiken, the former American Idol star and political activist, on Monday announced another run for Congress, as he seeks a seat in North Carolina.

Aiken is running in a district that includes Durham, and includes territory represented by Rep. David Price (D-NC), who is retiring.

In an announcement video, Aiken said, “As Democrats we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices, cause those folks ain’t quieting down any time soon.” He was referring to GOP figures like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn, who have drawn attention for their harsh rhetoric.

Aiken ran for Congress in 2014, but was defeated in the general election by Republican Renee Ellmers.

This time around, Aiken is running in a district that leans more to the left. Cook Political Report has rated the seat as “solid Democratic.” Aiken, though, faces a long list of rivals for the Democratic nomination, including state senators Wiley Nickel and Valerie Foushee.

Aiken was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice in 2012, but was critical of its headliner, Donald Trump, when he ran for president and when he entered the White House.  “I said a few times, he had a little TelePromoter in front of him on the table, and he’s running this country in the same way that he ran ‘Apprentice,’ which is producers are kind of telling him what is going on, and he is trying to make it look like he is getting something done,” Aiken said in 2017.

Aiken joins another celebrity candidate seeking office this year, including Mehmet Oz, aka “Dr. Oz,” who is running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican. Matthew McConaughey considered running for governor of Texas, but ultimately passed on the race.

Aiken is a native of Raleigh, and said in his announcement video that since his American Idol days, “a lot has changed for me too.”

“I came home. I came out. I became a father,” he said. “These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber’s, that I can promise you. But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state.”

 

 

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foxnews.com

Clay Aiken announces North Carolina run for Congress as a Democrat

 

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Clay Aiken announces North Carolina run for Congress as a Democrat

Clay Aiken is stepping into the North Carolina Congress race

Former "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken is making a second bid for Congress in his home state of North Carolina. 

Aiken will run as a Democrat in the 6th Congressional District after previously making an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. Currently, the district that Aiken is running in includes Chapel Hill and other Orange County communities, plus Apex, Morrisville, most of Cary and a sliver of Raleigh. 

However, Fox8 reports that the situation remains fluid as a 3-judge panel in Wake County Circuit Court will rule Tuesday on three lawsuits that ere filed that seek to challenge how the General Assembly has drawn the maps for 14 Congressional seats and the state Senate. 

As a result, Aiken and other hopefuls cannot formally file for their races. However, that didn’t stop the former "American Idol" contestant from launching his campaign intention with a video on social media. 

'

Clay Aiken announced that he's running for office once again.

Clay Aiken announced that he's running for office once again. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Aiken opens the video by noting that life has changed for him in the 20 years since he debuted to the public on the singing competition.

"I came home, I came out, I became a father. These days, my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Biebers’, that I can promise you," he says in the video. "But one thing that’s never changed for me is how much I love my home state. North Carolina is the place that I discovered first that I have a voice and that it was a voice that could be used for more than singing."

 

Clay Aiken was on the second season of "American Idol."

Clay Aiken was on the second season of "American Idol." (Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images)

Aiken went on to note that North Carolina used to be a "progressive beacon in the South" before naming specific politicians like U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. He compared the duo and their rhetoric to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Lauren Boebert.

 

Clay Aiken ran for Congress in 2014.

Clay Aiken ran for Congress in 2014. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

"These people are taking up all the oxygen in the room and, I’ve got to tell you, I am sick of it," he continues. "As democrats, we have got to get better at speaking up and using our voices because those people aren’t quieting down any time soon. That’s why I am running for Congress, here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice." 

The singer-turned-politician went on to outline a candidacy that will dedicate itself to "stopping climate change, systemic racism, income inequality, gun violence" and to "securing voting rights, free healthcare and a women’s right to choose."

"We are the ones who are going to solve the country’s biggest problems, and we are the ones who are going to defend our most precious rights," he adds. 

Aiken concludes by noting that he would be the first openly-gay Congressman from the South if he were elected. 

"If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal cords," he says at the end of the video. 

Aiken previously ran against Republican Renee Ellmers in 2014 but ultimately lost the race in what was then the 2nd District by 18 points. 

 

 

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‘American Idol’ Star Clay Aiken Is Running For Congress In North Carolina

 

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‘American Idol’ Star Clay Aiken Is Running For Congress In North Carolina

In a video to launch a second bid for Congress, the Democrat and singer said he wants to change his state’s “backwards-ass policies.”
 
Clay Aiken is using his voice again — but it’s not for singing.

The former “American Idol” contestant, 43, announced Monday that he is making a second bid to represent North Carolina in Congress.

“As a loud and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families,” Aiken, a native of Raleigh, says in a video he shared on Twitter to kick off his campaign.

 

“For decades, North Carolina was actually the progressive beacon in the South,” Aiken says in the campaign video. “But then things changed, and the progressives lost power, and we started getting backwards-ass policies like the voter suppression bills and the bigoted bathroom bill.”

He adds that nowadays, the loudest political voices in his state “are white nationalists like this guy,” cutting to a clip of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.). The video also shows images of other far-right U.S. representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

“These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room, and I’ve got to tell you, I am sick of it,” Aiken says.

In 2014, Aiken prevailed in the Democratic primary in his state’s 2nd District. But because he was a former pop star, openly gay and running in a conservative House district, he was defeated in the general election by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

Clay Aiken gives his concession speech as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014.

 
 

Clay Aiken gives his concession speech as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014.

JEFFREY A. CAMARATI VIA GETTY IMAGES

This time, Aiken is running in the redrawn 6th District, The Washington Post reports. The district is more liberal than the one he ran for in 2014, and includes a lot of the territory currently represented by long-serving Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.), 81, who announced in October that he would not seek reelection.

In his campaign video, Aiken acknowledges that he’s well aware that his shift from performer to politician may be a bit daunting for some voters.

“A lot can happen in 20 years,” he notes, pointing out that when he was runner-up on “American Idol” in 2003, there were no smartphones, social media was in its infancy, and Barack Obama was still relatively unknown.

Aiken says a lot has changed for him, too, since he moved back to North Carolina, came out and became a father.

“These days, my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber’s, I can promise you,” he says. “But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state.”

“North Carolina is the place where I discovered first that I had a voice,” he continues. “And that it’s a voice that could be used for more than singing.”

If elected, Aiken said, he would be the South’s first gay congressman: “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the ’ole vocal cords.”

 

 

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Ex-'American Idol' star Clay Aiken announces bid for Congress

 

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Ex-'American Idol' star Clay Aiken announces bid for Congress

By Shawna Mizelle, CNN

 

Updated 7:16 PM ET, Mon January 10, 2022

Clay Aiken calls out Republican members of Congress in campaign video
 
Aiken is running as a Democrat to represent the newly drawn 6th district, which includes much of the area that was represented by Democratic Rep. David Price. Price, who was first elected in 1986, announced he would not seek reelection in October.
 
    In his announcement, Aiken highlighted issues like income equality, access to health care and climate change while promising to focus on infrastructure and inflation if elected.
      "I also believe we need more civility in our politics, and North Carolina deserves representatives in Washington who use their positions to make people's lives better, not to advance polarizing positions that embarrass our state and stand in the way of real progress," Aiken said.
      The singer previously ran to represent North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014. He lost to Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers.

       

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      The singer previously ran to represent North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014. He lost to Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers.The singer previously ran to represent North Carolina's 2nd District in 2014. He lost to Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers.

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      nymag.com

      Clay Aiken Predicted Trump’s 2016 Win

       

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      Clay Aiken Predicted Trump’s 2016 Win

       

      bc9169f55a798feeb8ce8b0bff8ecde1e2-clay-

      The new Nostradamus? Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Netflix

      Clay Aiken’s video announcing that he’s running for Congress in 2022, seeking a seat in North Carolina eight years after his first, unsuccessful bid, has raised a lot of questions. Is North Carolina ready to “elect the South’s first gay Congressman,” as Aiken puts it? Do the kids know what American Idol is? And is making people post “I feel old” on social media an effective campaign strategy?

      He and the former president have a tumultuous history. After taking second place on American Idol in 2003 and launching a successful singing career, Aiken competed on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2012, finishing in second place once again. Though Trump played the boss on the reality competition show, Aiken later claimed that, unsurprisingly, producers actually decided which contestant to cut; Trump just read their instructions off a teleprompter that looked like a phone on his desk. “He didn’t make those decisions, he didn’t fire those people,” Aiken said.

      Aiken revealed all this on a July 2017 podcast interview, during which he described Trump as a “very gracious person” and “a nice guy,” even as he questioned his leadership skills. As some supporters of Aiken’s primary opponents have already started pointing out on Twitter, he went even further in defending his former TV “boss” during the 2016 campaign. In a March 2016 Fox Business Network interview, Aiken said he liked Trump, and described him as “kind of like that uncle that gets drunk at the wedding and embarrasses you. You love him, but you wish he’d shut up.” Aiken added that while he disagreed with Trump politically and was worried about how he’d behave in office, “I don’t think he’s a fascist. I don’t think he’s a racist. I think he’s a Democrat.”

      Aiken felt compelled to retract this admittedly muted praise after Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence during a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Aiken said in two tweets that have since been deleted (but were captured at the time by HuffPost😞

      Remember all those times I defended @realDonaldTrump and believed he was not actually racist? Well… I am a f*****g dumbass. #imsorry

      — Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) August 15, 2017

       

       

      TBC… I’ve always thought he would be a dumpster fire as a president, and I was right about that. I just didn’t think he was racist. #wrong https://t.co/6ec0Qm0WxW

      — Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) August 15, 2017

      Today, failing to accept that Trump was racist in the middle of the 2016 campaign makes Aiken’s political judgment seem a little suspect. But in his defense, he was quite a bit more clear-eyed than most political analysts about how that election would go down.

      His prescient analysis hasn’t received much attention, perhaps because he shared it with the likes of Khloé Kardashian during a roundtable of former Celebrity Apprentice contestants on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix show. In a July 2016 episode, Aiken said that while he hoped Hillary Clinton would win, he was worried that she wouldn’t generate enough enthusiasm to overcome Trump’s appeal to certain voters.

      “One of the things I found interesting as I was running [was that] Republicans would come to me and say, ‘I’m going to vote for you just because I’m sick and tired of politicians.’ And that I think is the question this year,” Aiken said, as Billboard reported at the time. “I think that those folks who don’t like politicians are more motivated to vote. As much as it pains me to say it, I think that Hillary Clinton doesn’t inspire people enough to get folks off their asses on November 8 to go and vote.”

      Aiken went on to argue that people were too confident in Clinton’s prospects. “We say Hillary has no chance of losing, Trump’s never going to be president, and people continue to say that and they will stay home and it’ll end up being like Brexit in England where we end up having a clown president for four years,” he said.

      Aiken’s remarks start at the 4:40 minute mark in the video below.

      Clearly, political prognostication is a tricky business. Take, for instance, my own sarcastic quip in a 2014 post on Aiken announcing his first run for Congress: “Someday we’ll look back on today as an important milestone in our march toward abandoning elections in favor of selecting our leaders via reality competition show.” Right nightmare scenario, wrong candidate.

       

       

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      queerty.com

      Clay Aiken announces run for Congress and Ruben Studdard fans are NOT happy right now

       
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       Clay Aiken announces run for Congress and Ruben Studdard fans are NOT happy right now
      By   · 15 comments

      clay-aiken-ruben-studdard-670x379.webp

      American Idol alum Clay Aiken just announced he’s running for Congress in North Carolina and fans of fellow American Idol alum Ruben Studdard are upset.

      Aiken made the big announcement in a video posted to his Twitter page earlier today.

      “Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since I first got to share my voice with you?” he wrote. “That’s a long time. A LOT has changed! We need powerful voices more than ever, so I’m running for Congress. And my voice is even stronger now! ;-)”

       

      In the video, Aiken takes aim at Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who he labels a “white nationalist”, and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, whom he refers to as a “hateful homophobe.”

       

      “Because if the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re gonna speak for us, just tell ’em I’m warming up the old vocal cords,” he says.

      Now, it’s only been a few hours since Aiken released the video and his candidacy is already causing a controversy on Twitter… although it’s not for anything the singer did, but rather something he didn’t do.

       

      Many people have been mistakenly calling him an “American Idol winner” when he actually finished second place on the second season of the show back in 2003. The winner that season was Ruben Studdard.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Luckily, Studdard doesn’t seem too miffed over the mix up. After being off Twitter for nearly a year, he logged back into his account today to retweet Aiken’s campaign announcement.

       

      Local outlet CBS 17 reports that Aiken is joining a crowded Democratic primary field that already has nearly a dozen candidates, including multiple state senators and a member of the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

       

      If elected, Aiken’s campaign says he’ll be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from the South.

       

       

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      hollywoodreporter.com

      Clay Aiken Running for Congress Again in North Carolina

       

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      Clay Aiken Running for Congress Again in North Carolina

      The former 'American Idol' runner-up is seeking to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. David Price.

      Plus Icon
       
      Clay Aiken
      Clay Aiken JASON KEMPIN/GETTY IMAGES

      Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken announced Monday he’s running for Congress again in North Carolina, this time seeking to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. David Price.

      In a video announcing his bid in the 6th District, Aiken said he’s joining the already crowded field for the Democratic primary, which has been delayed from March to mid-May due to litigation.

      Aiken, 43, has had a career in music, theater and reality shows — in addition to political and social activism — since finishing second to Ruben Studdard on the TV singing contest in 2003.

      “Hey, folks. It’s been awhile. Now, I know I look a little different these days, but we’ve met before,” he says in the video.

      Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a largely rural central congressional district in 2014, edging former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco. But he lost in the general election to then-Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers, receiving 41 percent of the vote.

      While that district was comfortably Republican, the proposed 6th District that Aiken is running in is overwhelmingly Democratic. It includes all of Orange and Durham counties — home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and very affluent western Wake County.

      The high-tech Research Triangle Park is within the 6th District, and where Price has been serving almost continuously since 1987.

      Aiken, who grew up in North Carolina and now lives in the Raleigh area, said he’d work to promote inclusion, provide free, high-quality health care and fight climate change.

      “As a loud and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades,” Aiken said in a news release.

      The 6th District primary winner would almost assuredly win the general election. The state’s congressional map is being challenged in court as an illegal gerrymander, however, meaning the lines could be altered and candidates may reconsider the district in which they could run. But any Triangle-area district should favor a Democrat.

      Announced 6th District Democratic primary candidates include state Sens. Valerie Foushee of Orange County and Wiley Nickel of Wake County; Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam; and virologist Richard Watkins.

      Aiken, who would be the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from the South if he won in November, said he would provide a counterweight in state politics to hardline Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Many Democrats have called on Robinson to resign for comments he’s made about sex education in schools that critics say disparaged LGBTQ people.

      “As Democrats, we have got to get better about speaking up and using our voices, because those folks ain’t quieting down anytime soon,” Aiken says in the video.

      Aiken said it was Price who helped him get interested in politics as a child. He told The News & Observer of Raleigh that when his eighth grade middle-school class studied the 1992 election, Aiken asked his teacher if he could invite a politician to speak, and contacted Price, who agreed.

      Aiken’s celebrity status is not quite as strong as it was eight years ago, and he still has not served in elected office before, Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said in an interview Monday. But Aiken proved to be a credible candidate in 2014 and could benefit in the primary from efforts to link himself to Price, he said.

      The top two vote-getters would advance to a runoff if the leading candidate does not receive more than 30 percent of the vote.

       

       

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      nydailynews.com

      Clay Aiken of ‘American Idol’ fame running for Congress from North Carolina

       

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      Clay Aiken of ‘American Idol’ fame running for Congress from North Carolina

      NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 
      JAN 10, 2022  4:35 PM
       
       
       
      Clay Aiken
      Clay Aiken
      Clay Aiken wants to use his voice for more than just making music.

      The “American Idol” alum announced plans on Monday to run for an open Democratic-leaning congressional seat in North Carolina’s so-called Research Triangle region in this year’s midterm elections.

      "I'm running for Congress in this community where I first found my voice," Aiken said in a campaign launch video.

      Aiken, who finished second in the 2003 iteration of the popular talent show, said he wants to become the only openly gay member of Congress elected from the Deep South to push back against homophobic right-wing leaders.

       

      “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they can speak for us, just tell ‘em I’m warming up the old vocal cords,” Aiken said

      He checked off a laundry list of progressive Democratic priorities like abortion, voting rights and fighting for a more equal society.

      But he also said Democrats need to be a “big tent” party to solve the nation’s problems, perhaps a hint that he would be a centrist voice in a left-leaning House caucus.

      Aiken praised Rep. David Price, the 30-year veteran Democratic lawmaker who is retiring this year and leaving the seat open.

      He faces a crowded Democratic primary for what would be a safely Democratic district encompassing the liberal cities of Durham and Chapel Hill and parts of suburban Raleigh. Several well-known state lawmakers are also running for the seat, which includes a well-educated population that is likely to continue to trend Democratic for the foreseeable future.

      The district was redrawn by Republican lawmakers in the recently completed redistricting as one of just three strongly Democratic seats out of 14 total seats in North Carolina, even though it’s a swing state.
      The state’s Supreme Court is preparing to rule on a lawsuit seeking to toss out the map, but any new map is likely to include a similar Democratic-leaning district in the Research Triangle in which Aiken could run.

      Aiken ran a surprisingly strong race in a 2014 long-shot battle to unseat a Republican incumbent in a much more rural nearby district in central North Carolina.

       

       

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      usatoday.com

      'American Idol' alum Clay Aiken announces run for Congress from North Carolina

       

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      'American Idol' alum Clay Aiken announces run for Congress from North Carolina

      d80f255e-5619-4d19-b50e-3815cde89fb4-CoxChelsey Cox
      USA TODAY
       

      Clay Aiken, the North Carolina teacher and former contestant on singing competition "American Idol," is making a second bid for a seat in Congress, according to an announcement released Monday.

      Aiken, 43, hopes to become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from the south by filling the vacancy left by Rep. David Price, D-N.C., upon his retirement. The long-serving congressman announced in October that he would not seek reelection.

      "As a loud and proud Democrat, I intend to use my voice to deliver real results for North Carolina families, just like David Price has done for decades," Aiken said on his campaign website.

      The former singer was the runner-up on the second season of hit reality competition show "American Idol" in 2003. Afterward, he launched a music and acting career — including a stint as a contestant on reality show "The Apprentice," hosted by former President Donald Trump.

      Aiken apologized for defending Trump against accusations of racism during his 2016 campaign after the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Washington Post reported.

       Aiken also served on behalf of UNICEF as a National Goodwill Ambassador before winning the Democratic primary in North Carolina's 2nd district in 2014. He lost in the general election to Republican incumbent Renee L. Ellmers, according to The Post.

      Aiken will shoot for the newly redrawn 6th district that includes Durham and parts of the Research Triangle. 

      In his announcement, the 10th generation North Carolinian condemned state representatives Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C. and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson as "white nationalists" and "homophobes."

      "These folks are taking up all the oxygen in the room and I am sick of it," Aiken said. "(Democrats) are the ones who are going to solve the country's biggest problems. And we are the ones who are going to defend our most precious rights."

      Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.

       

       

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      variety.com

      Clay Aiken on Why He’s Running For Congress Again, Being a Southern Gay Politician and How Trump ‘Hurt My Heart’

       

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      Clay Aiken on Why He’s Running For Congress Again, Being a Southern Gay Politician and How Trump ‘Hurt My Heart’

       

      On Monday, Clay Aiken — best known for coming in second on Season 2 of “American Idol” — announced that he was running for the House of Representatives in North Carolina’s 6th congressional district as a Democrat. Aiken is hoping to replace Rep. David Price, who represented the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina — also known as the Research Triangle, or just the Triangle — for nearly 35 years. Aiken was one of Price’s constituents, and says he even got Price to speak to his eighth grade social studies class.

      It will be Aiken’s second congressional campaign; in 2014, he lost a run for the 2nd congressional district in North Carolina in what was considered to be a safe Republican seat. The 6th district, by contrast, is much bluer, but with at least seven other Democratic candidates vying for the nomination, it is far from assured that Aiken will win the seat.

      As the 43-year-old explained to Variety, Aiken — who came out as gay in 2008 — was not really expecting to run again, until an anti-gay speech by his state’s Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, changed his mind. Aiken also talked passionately about his desire to bring civility to governance; how his “Idol” experiences could help him on his campaign; how his experience on “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2012 affected his outlook on Donald Trump’s presidency; and whether he will repeat his pledge to refrain from singing on the campaign trail.

      After your campaign for Congress in 2014, did you think you would run again?

      Well, the answer that is really no. I certainly wasn’t looking for a place to run again, and I wasn’t looking for a race to run in. But I was open to it if there was another race or seat or need, so to speak. I always told myself, I’d be willing to if I felt like there was something that I could provide that was necessary. But it’s been eight years, and I had totally moved on and not planned to run for Congress.

      So why did you decide to run this year?

      My congressman [David Price], who has been my congressman for my whole life pretty much, retired in October. My very first year that I got interested in politics ever was ’92, that was in eighth grade. I was such a big 13-year-old lover of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, that I just kind of got really thrilled with the whole political system. I asked my social studies teacher that year if I could call some politician and have them come speak to our class. And so I called David Price’s office in 1992. I have no idea who I talked to or what I said to them, but I talked them into having him come speak to a class full of eighth graders. He’s been sort of the one mainstay in the political world ever since the day that I got interested in politics.

      When he retired in October, I had several people approach me and asked me if I’d be interested in [running for his seat]. I told them, you know, I’m keeping an eye on it, but I’m not really necessarily thinking about running right now.

      In November as I was considering it, the lieutenant governor here in North Carolina [Mark Robinson], who is — what’s the word I want to use that won’t have me cussing in Variety — he’s empathetically challenged. He gave a speech in which he said, “What is the purpose of homosexuality? What purpose do homosexuals serve?” I watched that sort of with just dumb struck awe that someone could be so ignorant. After watching it, I said, you know, “I got your purpose, bitch. I will show you.”

      That clearly motivated you.

      It just really made me think about the reputation that North Carolina has gotten over the past several years. I’ve been a North Carolinian my whole life. My whole family’s been here since the 1700s, literally. In my entire life, I’ve never known a time when this state has had a reputation that wasn’t progressive and welcoming and friendly. Then in the last six years, you know, North Carolina started being represented by people like Mark Meadows. And now we’ve got [Representative] Madison Cawthorn, who’s got his face all over TV. People know North Carolina for that reason. I’ve got friends who are in New York or California and I’ll call ’em and say why don’t you come visit for the weekend. I can’t tell you, Adam, how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t know if I’d be comfortable in North Carolina.” And that pisses me the hell off. Because this area is not like that, and the fact that people outside of this state have this opinion or this perception of North Carolina based on people like Mark Robinson and Madison Cawthorn. I’m sick of that. I was not willing to let that be the reputation we have.

      So that was really a big part of what pushed me into saying, you know what, I do have an opportunity now to represent the state in a way that I think can provide some sort of counterbalance to what Madison Cawthorn and Mark Robinson have done.

      So according to Ballotpedia, there are at least seven other Democratic candidates who have declared that they’re running for your district in the primary. How do you plan on differentiating yourself?

      A big part of that is just this area right here, the triangle, is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing areas in the country. We’re losing a congress member who has had 35 years of seniority, and when you’ve had 35 years of seniority, you’re able to bring attention to your district because you’ve got that kind of power. We’ve seen that the people who are in Congress now who have the most pull for their areas are either those who have seniority or those who have a microphone and who can amplify their message in a certain way and bring attention to their areas. This area needs someone, after losing David Price, who’s going to be able to bring that sort of attention.

      I also think at the same time, it’s possible to do that without getting into fights with other people constantly. We’re constantly in fights within our own party; we’ve got a circular firing squad, it seems, too often. Things don’t get done because too many people are too busy constantly at each other’s throats. I think a little civility would be nice. A lot of voters want civility. For whatever reason, people in Congress, people in the Senate, people in state houses, don’t seem to be able to provide that. I’ve got enough attention. I don’t need any more. I’d like to do something for the area that put me in the position that I’m in.

      So what would you say are the core tenets of your campaign?

      Well, I mean, I think number one, civility. I just want people to start acting like grownups instead of children. I’ve got a kid who’s 13 years old, and I can’t watch the news around him because most of the time folks are yelling at each other, or calling each other names.

      I think policy is the thing that really has to be focused on, too. I think that the current congress and President Biden have done a relatively decent job of getting some of the basic things done that we need to get started on. The transportation infrastructure bill is obviously a good start. I’d like to see Build Back Better passed. I’m frustrated that it hasn’t been passed, but I’m glad it has passed the House. I hope that it will hope it’ll pass the Senate, but it’s only going to do that if we stopped screaming at people and we’re willing to sit down and work out a deal.

      I use this analogy a little bit. When I was growing up, we had four or five channels on TV — if it was a clear night and the rabbit ears worked. But now if you want videos about elephants befriending donkeys or chimpanzees swimming with dolphins, you can find it somewhere. It’s available to you. We’re very accustomed to getting exactly what we want, which is wonderful in the world of entertainment, but we are still 330 million people in one country. There are 435 members of the House. We have to recognize that we’re not alone here and we have to figure out a way to work together and come to some sort of solution. We all have to essentially watch the same channel on Monday night. We’re going to have to figure out how to work together and find something that where we can all be satisfied with.

      One of the things that you talked about in your campaign video was, if you were elected, you’d be the first openly gay member of Congress from the South. How do you feel that the concept of being openly gay in the public eye has changed since you were on “Idol” in 2003 and came out publicly in 2008?

      God, gosh, talk about things changing quickly. I don’t think there has been, that I can pinpoint right now, a civil rights movement or a human rights movement that has progressed as quickly as the fight for gay rights has between the years of 2003 and 2022. Things have progressed rapidly. [In] 2008, I remember I was on Broadway, and I was scared to death the very first night that I had come out publicly. Everyone in the cast knew. I was out to everyone in my own life. Hell, I was probably out to most people in the world, I just hadn’t said it. (Laughs) But I remember that night being scared to death that I was going to get booed, that people were not going to like me anymore. I didn’t get booed that night. But you know, the number of people who were fans of mine and who followed me and supported me and bought my albums and all that stuff, the drop off after I came out was precipitous, to say the very least. Easily, my fan base was cut in half, right? At the very least. There were there were fans at the time who attempted to try to sue me and the record label because I had misled them into saying that I’m straight. I mean, people were just not happy about it at all.

      I remember being in a restaurant here in town maybe maybe five, six years after that, and not too far from where I went to high school. Some high school-age students walked in and two of the guys were — I mean, I didn’t speak to them. So I don’t know if they were gay, but I was pretty sure they were. They were dressed in ways that, you know, they were living their best life. And I just thought to myself, Gosh, they probably go to the high school I went to. It had at that point been less than 20 years since I’ve graduated, and I just remember being so proud of the fact that those kids were most definitely out and were able to be in same high school that I was absolutely not able to be out in.

      How have you observed that working in the world of politics?

      Society has really progressed a lot, but some for some strange reason, politically, one side has kind of gone backwards. I don’t quite understand why there’s so much hate involved. And, I got to tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s really even the people. I think it’s just the politicians. I’m not quite sure why some of the politicians tend to have so much homophobia and especially transphobia right now. Even in rural areas in North Carolina, I don’t find any hatred or contempt for people who are who are LGBT. But politicians for whatever reason, I guess maybe they’re preaching some of these hateful things to a very, very small choir or base.

      But I feel like on the whole, American society, whether they’re Democrat or Republican, has become far more welcoming and embracing. There’s obviously still work to do legislatively. Congress has still not passed certain protections for LGBT people that need to be passed, like making sure that LGBT people are considered a protected class in the same way gender and race and religion are. So we have some legislative work to do. But I feel like I am proud of who I am, and I think a lot more — not all — but a lot more LGBT people are able to be proud and out today than were able to be.

      You opened your campaign video by referencing your time on “American Idol,” and earlier in our conversation you you talked about feeling like, one of the things that might help differentiate you as a candidate is your ability to speak with a loud voice and draw an audience. So how much do you think your time on “Idol” will be an asset to your campaign?

      “Idol” was, in many ways, sort of a boot camp to learn about how to take criticism in front of 40 million people on live TV, and be told you’re awful or told you’re good or told you look weird or whatnot — and learn how to shake criticism off. Obviously, I had a lot of experience with being picked on and bullied before “Idol” and since “Idol.” It wasn’t the only time I got crap for something, but it certainly was an opportunity to learn what’s important and what you need to worry about and take seriously versus what’s superficial and what you don’t need to get your feelings hurt about. I think it gives you an opportunity to put things in perspective a little bit more.

      I know since your 2014 campaign, you reunited with Ruben Studdard in 2018 for a holiday show on Broadway, and you performed in “Grease” in Pittsburgh in 2019. What else have you been up to since your 2014 campaign?

      I did something in Pittsburgh again last summer and honestly, I’m still slated to do something Pittsburgh this summer — that’s how much I had not expected to run. (Laughs) I’ve continued to perform pretty consistently since, just not in the huge ways that I think people were used to seeing in the mid 2000s, so to speak.

      What are you supposed to be performing in Pittsburgh this summer?

      Well, I’m not going to say it only because we haven’t figured out exactly what’s going on with it yet. So I don’t really know. That’s TBD. This [campaign] is my priority now and until it’s no longer a priority. I anticipate that we’re going to be successful here in this primary and therefore be quite busy. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      In 2016, you were a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton for president. But you did end up apologizing for saying during that campaign that you didn’t think Donald Trump was racist based on your experiences with him on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” What was your experience was of watching Trump’s presidency since that election?

      Well, I want to correct you a little bit. In 2016, I was a big vocal supporter of Bernie [Sanders] until Hillary secured the [Democratic] nomination. At which point, obviously, when you’re talking Hillary versus Trump, absolutely, I would have supported my dog over Trump. But I liked Bernie in 2016 until Hillary. Now, repeat the rest of your question — you were asking me about what my experience was watching his presidency?

      Yes, what was your experience living through the Trump presidency?

      It was heartbreaking, I think, probably more so for me than others simply because having known him prior to him running and being elected, I didn’t know this despotic part of him — or at least I didn’t see it. No one who was on it when I was on it was ever close to him. But when he got elected, I think I knew enough about him to recognize really all he wanted was attention and for people to like him and know his name. So I reserved a little bit of hope, honestly, that he would, after winning the election, want so badly for everyone to love him that he would retreat and start trying to make everyone on both sides love him. I wanted it to believe that can be possible. Obviously, he very clearly proved that he was not capable of that anymore. I think a lot of the things he said, whether he believed him or not at the beginning, he convinced himself of them. It’s really hard when you’re talking about someone who’s clearly such a narcissist that without being a psychiatrist myself, I can’t really even speak on that. He has mental and psychiatric disorders [that] I think are obvious to most people who watch him. It’s hard to comment on it. I mean, you can say someone’s batshit crazy? I really think at times I feel sorry for how sickly demented he is. It hurt my heart for the whole country to have to live through that. And for the people who love him and are snowed by the fact that they believe this man cares about them — I can promise you, he doesn’t. I can assure you of that.

      So what is your take on Joe Biden’s first year as president?

      Joe Biden hasn’t been president for a year yet. We’ve got 10 days until he has had one complete year. In that time, he passed an enormous stimulus package. He then passed through the House and the Senate and an enormous transportation package — not as big as I would have liked it and many people would have liked, but he got a big thing passed. He’s passed, through the House, the Build Back Better act. He has actually done a lot of good work, the problem is he’s still combating COVID. He’s still trying to get us through this pandemic. At the same time, he’s having to deal with inflation that’s really sort of crippling any comeback that we could hope to have. Joe Biden did not come into office with the same types of majorities in the House or the Senate that somebody like [President Lyndon Johnson] did, but even still, he has done he’s done far more than other presidents have done with more of a majority.

      Finally, in 2014, you said that you would not sing while you were on the campaign trail. Do you expect to maintain that pledge for this campaign?

      Well, I’m not going to make the pledge during this campaign. I don’t really think of many instances where I would want to hear someone sing when they were running for office. But if we find ourselves in a situation where truly that’s what people want to hear, then, you know, I may not say no as adamantly this time as I did last time. I’m certainly not looking for opportunities to do it. You know? Can you think of a time where you would want to hear a politician all the sudden bust into song? In the middle of the State of Union address, is that what you’re talking about? It would be very odd, right? I don’t know where the setting would be organic enough for that to happen. But we’ll see. I don’t see it happening, let me put it that way. I don’t see anybody asking me to.

      This interview has been edited and condensed.

       

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      loudwire.com

      Dee Snider Backs Former ‘American Idol’ Vocalist Clay Aiken in His Congressional Bid

       

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      It's not uncommon for celebs to step into the political world and former American Idol competitor Clay Aiken recently revealed his plans to run for Congress in North Carolina. Shortly after a recent campaign video was posted to social media, Aiken got an endorsement from Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, who spoke about why he would back the musician-turned-politician in his congressional bid.

      In a tweet in which Snider also shared Aiken's campaign video, the "We're Not Gonna Take It" singer stated, "This may surprise some of you (Seriously?), but I endorse @clayaiken. Clay is smart, decent, hard working, caring, well spoken & fearless. Pretty much everything most congressmen are not. I'm not from N.Carolina, but if I was I'd vote for him," adding the Aiken campaign hashtag #JoinTheChorus.

      In his original social media post, Aiken declared, "We need powerful voices more than ever, so I'm running for Congress. And my voice is even stronger now!" The singer previously ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2014, but lost in his bid to claim a seat.

      The post also comes with a video in which the singer stated, "If the loudest and most hateful voices think they are going to speak for us, just tell them I'm warming up the old vocal cords."

      Aiken, who is running for office in the newly drawn 6th District in North Carolina, also added, "I also believe we need more civility in our politics, and North Carolina deserves representatives in Washington who use their positions to make people's lives better, not to advance polarizing positions that embarrass our state and stand in the way of real progress."

      While Snider comes from the rock and metal world and Aiken is best known for his pop-leaning career, the two vocalists have crossed paths multiple times. Snider and Aiken both were part of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice in 2012 and Aiken also was a guest collaborator on Snider's Dee Does Broadway album the same year. The pair teamed up to cover "Luck Be a Lady" for Snider's nod to Broadway show tunes.

      To learn more about Aiken's congressional bid, check out his website.



      Read More: Dee Snider Backs Clay Aiken in His Congressional Bid | https://loudwire.com/dee-snider-backs-clay-aiken-congressional-bid/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral

       

       

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      tonedeaf.thebrag.com

      Dee Snider endorses former ‘American Idol’ contestant running for congress

       

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      Dee Snider endorses former ‘American Idol’ contestant running for congress

       

      If a former American Idol contestant running for congress wasn’t eyebrow raising enough, then the news that Dee Snider is actually endorsing him may get them wiggling.

      The aforementioned American Idol contestant is named Clay Aiken and he was a contestant on season two of the show. He made it all the way to the finale, but came in at second place.

      Aiken has now announced that he is running for congress, a move that Dee Snider of Twisted Sister is seemingly in favour of.

      “This may surprise some of you (Seriously?), but I endorse @clayaiken. Clay is smart, decent, hard working, caring, well spoken & fearless. Pretty much everything most congressmen are not. I’m not from N.Carolina, but if I was I’d vote for him! #JoinTheChorus,” Snider posted on Twitter, alongside a clip of Aiken’s announcement video.

      Despite Snider’s post, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Aiken is running for congress, as he has previously made a bid for it in the past.

      For those not familiar with American politics, Aiken is running as a Democrat, and he said he stands for issues like climate change and income equality.

      Aiken announced his second bid for congress this morning, Australian time.

      “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they are going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal chords,” Aiken said in his announcement video.

      Snider’s encouragement post for Aiken was met mainly with praise in the comments section.

      “I think overall people have given Clay a hard time for no reason. I wish him luck and hope he makes the right choices for N.Carolina,” responded one user.

      Snider has been very vocal about his political views in the past, famously coming out swinging at republicans during the American election in 2020. The bold remark came after Snider asked Donald Trump to stop using the 1984 Twisted Sister anthem ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ in his campaign.

      “The Republicans are not just liars. They are screaming, preening, bald faced, shameless liars who think that victory at all cost is acceptable as they are the ‘moral majority.’ THEY ARE NOT! THEY ARE THE BULLYING MINORITY! IT’S TIME FOR THE REAL MAJORITY TO STAND UP & FIGHT BACK!” Snider posted to Twitter.

       

       

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      wral.com

      Cooper vetoes Republican effort to delay primary election

       

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      Cooper vetoes Republican effort to delay primary election

      • Posted January 28, 2022 12:31 p.m. EST

      Updated January 28, 2022 1:15 p.m. EST

       

      By Bryan Anderson, WRAL statehouse reporter

      RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would have delayed the state’s primary election by another three weeks.

      The proposal that Republican lawmakers advanced last week was intended to ensure the GOP had ample time to redraw voting maps if the state Supreme Court decided to strike down recently approved legislative and congressional boundaries that heavily favor Republicans.

      "This bill is an additional attempt by Republican legislators to control the election timeline and undermine the voting process,” Cooper wrote in a veto message Friday afternoon. “The constitutionality of congressional and legislative districts is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court should have the opportunity to decide how much time is needed to ensure that our elections are constitutional."

      The proposal was approved along party lines in both chambers of the state legislature last week. Republicans lack the support of Democrats that would be required to override Cooper’s decision.

      In a statement, GOP House Speaker Tim Moore called the effort to delay the election "a reasonable measure" designed to "ensure a thorough and constitutional process." He accused the Democratic governor of making a decision to benefit his own political party.

      "(Cooper) wants to sow chaos and confusion in the hopes that the Supreme Court will usurp the constitutional duty of the General Assembly to the benefit of his Democrat allies," Moore wrote.

      The high court will hear the case Wednesday. State elections officials have said finalized maps must be in place by Feb. 18 to maintain the current May 17 primary schedule.

      If the North Carolina Supreme Court rules against Republicans after Feb. 18 or shortly ahead of that date, Republicans fear they could effectively lose control over the process. State law requires lawmakers to have at least two weeks to redraw maps.

      The court, which has a 4-3 Democratic majority, could also decide on its own to again push back the primaries. Last month, the court delayed the election by 10 weeks, from March 8 to May 17, so that a complaint brought by voting rights groups could be heard ahead of the 2022 election.

      If the Supreme Court votes in favor of Republican mapmakers or issues an evenly split ruling, the voting maps the GOP passed last fall would remain in place.

      A panel of three Wake County Superior Court judges, including two registered Republicans and one registered Democrat, unanimously decided to let the maps remain, even though they found evidence of “pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”

      Democratic lawmakers opposing the GOP effort to delay the primary argue the high court’s decision should come before any further election delays are considered. They’ve also expressed concern with the June 7 date Republicans proposed since school is still in session in many places that would also operate as voting locations, creating possible logistical challenges.

      Some Democrats also don’t trust Republicans to redraw a map fairly.

      Cooper’s veto likely improves Democrats’ chances of seeing an independent expert appointed to handle a potential redraw process because Republicans may not be able to meet a narrow Feb. 18 deadline if the Supreme Court strikes down the new voting maps, takes a while to issue its ruling and doesn’t delay the primaries. Under the GOP proposal the governor rejected, Republicans would have faced less pressure to quickly pass updated maps.

      The voting maps that Republicans approved in November did not require the signature of the state’s Democratic governor.

      The GOP holds an 8-5 advantage over Democrats in the U.S. House. Under the newly passed congressional map, the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project predicts Republicans would likely win 11 of the 14 seats up for grabs. Only one of the newly drawn districts is highly competitive, while two others that favor GOP candidates are somewhat competitive.

      Meanwhile, the new legislative maps bolster Republicans’ prospects of regaining a veto-proof majority in the state House and Senate.

      An already postponed primary has created problems for some candidates. The delay is forcing candidates to adjust their strategies and stretch their campaign dollars. It has also given new candidates time to enter races.

      Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who is seeking the Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination, told The Associated Press in an interview last month that he would have entered the race later had he planned for a May primary. He’s in a close race with U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, who has received backing from a powerful Washington, D.C., political action committee and former President Donald Trump.

      Meanwhile, former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken entered a crowded U.S. House field after the Supreme Court delayed the election by 10 weeks, thus giving him more time to mull a run.

      “The delays are going to shift your strategies and your tactics,” said Doug Heye, a longtime GOP advisor and former Republican National Committee communications director. “Fundraising is where that’s really key because you’re going to need more money raised for a longer fight.”

       

       

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      cbs17.com

      What did Clay Aiken leave in his Raleigh middle school’s time capsule?

       

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      What did Clay Aiken leave in his Raleigh middle school’s time capsule?

      Posted:  / Updated: 
      RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- Leesville Middle School on Friday opened up a time capsule that the school’s first class put together 30 years ago.

      RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- Leesville Middle School on Friday opened up a time capsule that the school’s first class put together 30 years ago.The opening brought back alumni and former teachers to the school on Friday.

      Sixteen items were left by the school’s inaugural class in 1992. The box of nostalgia contained items expected from a middle school’s capsule, such as a yearbook, photos and predictions for the future.

      Of the items left for the people of the future, four were donated by Clayton Grissom, who is better known now as Clay Aiken.

      IMG_8921.jpg?w=900
      A Leesville Middle School T-Shirt and Duckhead brand short were left by Clay Aiken for his middle school’s time capsule

      Aiken is known for his previous run on American Idol and his current run for North Carolina’s new 6th Congressional District, which represents Durham and Orange counties, as well as a small section of western Wake County.

      Aiken left a student directory, a Leesville t-shirt, a VHS tape of a show choir, Duckhead brand shorts.

      Aiken’s former yearbook advisor was present and said Aiken played a big part in coming up with organizing the capsule.

      IMG_8920.jpg?w=561

      Mickie Shipley came back to her alma mater to see the capsule opening with her former classmates. Her husband is a former student here and her son is a current student.

      “It was so much fun seeing the Duckhead shorts which were a big thing when we were kids. That kind of brand, I don’t even think they make that anymore. To get up there and see all the pictures and see the pictures when the school was being built, that was a lot of fun,” Shipley said.

       

       

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